Ned Martin Stringham was my grandfather. He was a grandfather in the cliché way. The kind of man you'd want for your grandpa. As a child he'd spoil me with presents and dollar bills when my family would visit him in Utah.
He loved country music and would take my grandmother dancing. Ned Stringham was the father of six girls. He worked many jobs, but his favorite was the Recreational Coordinator at the State Hospital in Provo, Utah. Ned taught me at an early age to refer to the place he worked as the 'State Hospital' and not the 'Mental Institution.'
Later in life, when I visited Ned at the State Hospital, I went to see him not as an employee in the Recreation Department but as a patient in the geriatric ward.
Ned was severely bipolar and when he didn't take his medication he became maniacally convinced that he was no longer Ned Martin Stringham (grandpa, husband and father) but Mar-Tie, Country Western Superstar. While seemingly harmful looking, off of his medication, Mar-Tie was a danger to himself and to others. This is why he was committed to the State Hospital.
It was difficult to enjoy the music he created because of the mental and financial anguish these recordings put on my family. He blew through lifesaving's hiring bands to back up his songs. He'd leave my grandmother for long periods of time to record his music. Once he returned with a new van, convinced he needed to purchase this vehicle so his band could tour America. A week or two later, the van was repossessed.
He recorded thousands of songs and had boxes and boxes of cassette tapes with his music and musings. However, his wife, daughters, grandchildren, myself didn't recognize or appreciate the oddness of our wacky relative. Nearly all of his music has been lost. He stored his cassette tapes at random storage units throughout Utah. Never remembering to pay his bills, the cassette tapes were probably sold for pennies at warehouse auctions.
After Mar-Tie died, I collected the few tapes he had in his room and played them for my friend Penny who had a show on the public radio station KRCL in Salt Lake City. She played some of Mar-Tie's music over the air and people (not many, but a few) began requesting other songs by Mar-Tie. One listener, Blair Sterrett who also had a radio show (on KWCR/Weber States 88.1 FM in Utah) asked for a copy of Mar-Tie's music. Blair then sent Mar-Tie to Otis Fodder and that's how, a few years after Mar-Tie's death, that he became unearthed.
Maybe one day more songs will surface, but for now these are the complete recordings of my avant garde grandfather, Mar-Tie, Country Western Superstar. - Phil Jacobsen
Check out more information about this album on it's Comfort Stand release page